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Publishing Exclusively To Amazon Vs Publishing Wide

Publishing Exclusively to Amazon vs Publishing Wide

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(Image by gustavobelemmi via morguefile.com)

One of the most common questions we're asked though our AskALLi programme and on our members' forum is: “Should I put my book in KDP Select and go exclusive to Amazon, or should I go wide?” In this extract from ALLi's guidebook Choosing the Best Self-publishing Companies and Services, ALLi Watchdog John Doppler explains.

To ‘go wide' is the self-publishing's jargon for distributing your book via multiple platforms, such as Kobo, Apple Books, etc, either directly or via an aggregator who will distribute from one dashboard to many distributors on your behalf.

As a guiding principle, and recognizing that there are time constraints and other factors at play, ALLi advises authors to go wide—to make their writing available wherever people might find and enjoy it, through as many different retailers, regions, and formats as possible, given their personal limitations of time, money, and other resources.

The principle is that the more retailers, regions, and formats a book is in, the stronger its foundation for consistent, long-term income.

Reasons to Put a Book in KDP Select

Here's what Amazon says about why you should opt for KDP Select:

Earn Higher Royalties
Earn your share of the KDP Select Global Fund when customers read your books from Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. Plus, earn 70 percent royalty for sales to customers in Japan, India, Brazil and Mexico.

Maximize Your Book's Potential
Choose between two great promotional tools: Kindle Countdown Deals, time-bound promotional discounting for your book while earning royalties, or Free Book Promotion where readers worldwide can get your book free for a limited time.

Reach a New Audience
Help readers discover your books by making them available through Kindle Unlimited in the US, UK, German, Italy, Spain, France, Brazil, Mexico, Canada and India and the the Kindle Owners' Lending Library (KOLL in the US, UK Germany, France and Japan.

Reasons to Go Wide

The first rule of reducing risk in investment is to diversity. Monopolies are never good, and you don't want to be dependent on any single income stream for your bread and butter.

Indie authors rightly love Amazon, but ALLi's advice is to have your books as widely available as possible, in as many formats as possible.

Photo of Mark Coker with bookshelves

Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords

The worst option is to move your books in and out of each.

In a post on exclusivity and Amazon, our distribution advisor Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, says:

“It can take years to build readership at a retailer. Authors who cycle their books in and out of KDP Select (Amazon's exclusivity program) will have a more difficult time building readership at Amazon's competitors.”

And then there's the global growth of book buying on other platforms. Amazon may be the biggest player in the US and the UK, but there are other retail stores and devices that dominate in other countries:

  • In Germany, which many experts agree is the next big market for ebooks, Amazon has 40% of the market. Apple Books and Tolino (an ebook reader with associated stores run by a group of German publishers) have the rest.
  • Sales in Canada come mostly from Kobo for most of our members and both Kobo and Apple Books have expanded into more than 70 countries.

A Case Study with Joanna Penn

Joanna Penn headshot

Joanna Penn, ALLi's Enterprise Advisor, shares her distribution strategy

Joanna Penn, ALLi's enterprise advisor explains her approach:

One of the best things about being indie is personal choice, but of course, this can make it harder as well. We can't tell you what to do with your books, but here is what I do myself.

For anyone with one book and no platform, exclusivity seems to be the best way to get your book moving, at least in the initial period. I helped my dad self-publish his historical thriller, Nada, and put that in KDP Select. There was no point in going with the other platforms when the majority of his sales would be Amazon, and he had no intention of doing any ongoing marketing for the book. Free books allowed us to get the sales started and get some reviews.

For translations, in a new market, with little ability to do other forms of marketing, exclusivity is also a good idea. I'm using KDP Select for my Spanish and Italian books, and the free promo days have enabled us to get the algorithms moving and get some reviews.

For an established series that you are building over time, using more than one site is my personal choice. The compound effect will mean that over time, as I add books onto the platforms, and reach readers one by one, my sales will grow on other sites. I also like spreading my income streams so I am not dependent on one platform for my livelihood. That's why the vast majority of my English language fiction and non-fiction is on all major platforms. 


In summary, with multiple books, you can adopt multiple strategies. For the one-book author, KDP Select may well be the best option –  but as an indie, the choice is yours!



This post is extracted from the AskALLi guidebook, Choosing the Best Self-publishing Companies and Services, which is available to buy on all platforms! If you are a paid ALLi member, you may also download the ebook for free as one of the 21 membership benefits. Not yet an ALLi member but like to know more about joining? Visit our membership website, www.allianceindependentauthors.org.

#Indieauthors - wondering whether to put your #selfpub books into KDP Select or to go wide? Not sure what going wide means? This post by @JohnDopp will help you! Click To Tweet

From the ALLi Author Advice Center Archive


Author: John Doppler

From the sunny California beaches where he washed ashore in 2008, John Doppler scrawls tales of science fiction, urban fantasy, and horror -- and investigates self-publishing services as the Alliance of Independent Authors's Watchdog. John relishes helping authors turn new opportunities into their bread and butter and offers terrific resources for indie authors at Words on Words. He shares his lifelong passion for all things weird and wonderful on The John Doppler Effect.


This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. “The first rule of investment is to diversity.” Not a good metaphor when you think the world’s greatest ever investor, Warren Buffett, thinks it’s rubbish and describes it as deworsification. Amazon has 67% of the market and in most cases, the loss of KU income will not be made up from the other retailers. Further, it’s time-consuming and using an aggregator costs and precludes you from promotions (Kobo won’t promote if your books are published by an aggregator). I tried going wide for a year and all it did was cost me … both monetarily and with Amazon rankings.

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